Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell Review

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Title: Eleanor & Park
Audience: Teens/Young Adults
Genres: Coming of Age, Romance
Published: February 2013

Synopsis: Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.

I was so pleasantly surprised when I read Eleanor and Park. Fangirl, also written by Rainbow Rowell, was good, although nothing I felt I would remember in years from now. I didn’t have very high expectations for E&P; the blurb made it sound mediocre – familiar and done before, nothing exciting. But shortly after, I was 2 chapters in and realised that I simply adored this book. I’m sure most avid readers have at least heard of this book with all of the hype that surrounds it. As always, the characters played a large part in my love for the book – you first meet Park, seemingly quiet and keeps himself to himself, and then Eleanor, noticeable and not willing to change.

Park seemed really cool, safe and level-headed – for me, he was the more relatable and realistic character. He didn’t ignore all of Eleanor’s faults, he noticed them and worried what others thought, just as anyone at his age would, but finally learned that nothing matters but how he feels and what he wants. There were also the struggles he faced within his family, that I feel most books would ignore or play-down the impact that it would have on the character. The book was true to Park and how it seemed he would of acted in all situations.

Eleanor was a bit harder for me to empathise with, as I felt like we are really different in the way we would think and act – there were times when I would have done or said the complete opposite of what Eleanor did. In a way, it’s a shame because I did feel quite disconnected with her, so I’m hoping that didn’t make me miss any important parts of her’s and Park’s relationship.

The origin of Eleanor and Park’s relationship is simple and full of small gestures, involving comics and music, which I think is really sweet. Nothing is overly dramatic or sudden – they don’t see each other and instantly fall in love, it takes time and patience like any real relationship, and I thought it was really nice that it was portrayed in such a realistic way.

There are many topics discussed in this book that are really interesting to read about, not only because they aren’t subjects typically discussed much nowadays, but also because the book is set in the mid 1980’s, so certain situations were handled a lot differently. There is everything from abuse, bullying and racism to love, protection and acceptance. It does say ‘not suitable for younger readers’ on the back cover and I would agree with that as I feel like some of the topics are quite mature and not necessarily something that young people will have been exposed to before. Though, the book spans across many areas of interest so will appeal to many YA, and older, readers.

Special thanks to Lauren for giving me this book!

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

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